Fall and rise of endangered species: Detection of genomic and population ecological signals of decreasing and increasing populations

Project description

The project combines analyses of historical and modern genomes of wolves, wolverines and golden eagles and with various ecological variables in modelling the interplay of genomic erosion, inbreeding, population structure and gene flow with anthropogenic, environmental and stochastic effects and demographic vital rates. The aim is to understand roles of these processes in survival of populations. The study species, declined due to persecution during the last centuries in Finland (and elsewhere). Especially the wolf and wolverine were almost extirpated from Finland. These species still face threats from poaching and are reduced in numbers by legal culling. We believe that genetic and demographic processes are interwoven and that they have a large effect on each other. Our study provides new empirical evidence for the long-lasting debate of the importance of genetic, demographic and stochastic effects in conservation biology and the results will be of importance in conservation management.

The research group of Wildlife Genomics (https://www.oulu.fi/wildlifegenomics/) at the Ecology and Genetics Research Unit is led by Prof. Jouni Aspi and Doc. Laura Kvist and consists of a varying number of post-docs, PhD students and master’s students. The research of the group is focused broadly on evolutionary, ecological and conservation genetics/genomics, molecular ecology and landscape genetics and phylogeography. Current research includes, e.g. usage of ancient DNA, studying animal domestication, and investigating genetic effects of post-glacial recolonization processes and habitat fragmentation. This project's work on spatio-temporal modeling will be placed in the Research Unit of Mathematical Sciences and will be supervised mainly by Prof. Mikko Sillanpää. We collaborate closely with many other research groups, both nationally and internationally. 


Laura Kvist

Jouni Aspi

Jouni Aspi

Mikko Sillanpää

Mikko J. Sillanpää

Professor of Statistics